Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
Monday Jun 06, 2011

Update on Communications and Public Engagement

Guest blog by Peter Pappas, Chief Communications Officer

Over the past year, the USPTO has made significant strides in increasing and broadening our engagement with the intellectual property community, the general public and our employees. Director David Kappos highlighted some of these efforts in this blog post from last December and we are now more visible and more engaged in more places with the innovation community. Just this year, Director Kappos spoke at South by Southwest in Austin and at the Bright Lights Conference for venture capitalists in New York City. The USPTO is being featured in mainstream, influential publications like Fast Company and The Economist, and we were featured on the front page of the New York Times in February.

We are utilizing public meetings, email blasts, online chats and webcasts to further strengthen the USPTO’s relationships with its employees, the IP community and other stakeholders. As you know, Director Kappos normally posts to this weekly blog on topics of interest to the IP community and we follow your comments about key USPTO initiatives closely. We launched a Subscription Center last December and are pleased to report that more than 25,000 have used it to subscribe to publications like our Monthly Review or Inventors Eye, our bimonthly publication for the independent inventor community. In October, we launched our Patents Data Visualization Center – or “Dashboard” on our website to give the public access to the most current key metrics on patent pendency and quality, thereby making our progress transparent and enabling the public to see how we are progressing toward our ambitious goals. Our Patents Dashboard was followed by additional dashboards for Trademarks and the Office of Policy and External Affairs (OPEA) last month.

And social media has become a growing part of our efforts. You can now find us active on Facebook and Twitter. As of today, more than 10,000 people keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter. And while most organizations hit a plateau in social media growth, we haven’t reached that point. On average, more than 30 people per day join one of our communities. And many are actively engaged with us and give us valuable feedback. You help share our messages with others you believe would also be interested. We read your comments on Facebook and we read your tweets and @replies on Twitter. Whenever possible, we’re also there to respond, to be helpful, and to keep the conversation going.

In coming weeks, we’ll be growing our presence on YouTube where we plan to highlight videos that teach you more about the USPTO and how to work with us, as well as stories from companies around the nation who are spurring innovation and growing jobs because of the patents they’ve received on their inventions.

In short, we are communicating with and engaging the public like never before, and we believe that this engagement not only keeps you informed of what we are doing, but also gives us vital feedback with which we can make better decisions. Ultimately, the real value in our publications and our social media presence comes from you. By engaging with us and others in our public social space, we get a better sense of what you “like” (to borrow a favorite Facebook term) about us and what we need to be doing better. Please continue to subscribe to our various publications and continue to stay in touch with us via social media. You have a voice at the USPTO and we are listening.


You could improve the USPTO engagement with the public by improving your online patent search system so that it would be similar to the more powerful search systems available at the USPTO public search room. This would help the numerous USPTO users who do not live near this fine resource. When the public can do better patent searches online, they will be more motivated to submit patent applications and these applications will be higher in quality. Since many Americans have high-speed Internet connections, they could use a feature-rich online search system. Good Internet patent searches are a key factor for increased public engagement with the USPTO.

Posted by Nickolaus E. Leggett on June 08, 2011 at 10:53 PM EDT #

@ Nickolaus: I agree that the USPTO's online patent search system is pretty weak. However, Google's free search is so good that I do not think the office need bother improving their system, especially with their current budget constraints. Our firm has access to a number of commercial (and I presume expensive) search systems but I still find my self using Google more often than not.

Posted by Charles on June 14, 2011 at 02:27 PM EDT #

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